Two new poetry books to help me start the year

I want to read more poetry this year. I find that easier to do when I have the physical books in front of me, so today I bought the latest books by two of my favourite poets: “Sincerity” by Carol Ann Duffy and “Anecdotal Evidence” by Wendy Cope.

“Sincerity” made more of a splash than most poetry books do. It’s Carol Ann Duffy’s last year as Poet Laureate and, in her words, her latest collection of poems was partly inspired by the “evil twins of Brexit and Trump”.

I bought the book because I liked the poem “Gorilla” which describes her face to face, albeit through glass, meeting with a Gorilla in Berlin Zoo. She captures the gorilla’s anger and aggression perfectly

“Its eyes were smashed rage
under a pelmet of wrath.
Its nose, two boxing-gloves.
Its mouth, an unliftable curse;”

and imagines it free before concluding by saying:

“With a day’s more evolution, it could even be President.”

On the opposite page, I found “Swearing In”, a poem made up of four verses of very creative insults ending with a one-line verse

“Mandrake Mymmerkin, welcome to the White House.”

If, like me, you’re not fluent in medieval insults, go HERE to see the definition (it’s #18)

That was enough to get the book carried to the cash desk. Skimming it now, I can see lots of stuff about Brexit that I’m sure I’ll find cathartic, I’ll review as I go along.

It only took one poem of two verses to get me to buy this collection. It’s called “Evidence”. It starts with a quote from the “Daily Telegraph” in 2012 where a researcher claimed that “anecdotal evidence suggests that we respond positively to birdsong”. After a verse in which she gently pokes at this statement of the obvious she ends with:

What’s the use of poetry?
You ask. Well, here’s a start:
It’s anecdotal evidence
About the human heart.”

I will savour her poems, allowing myself no more than one a day. I’m sure they’ll tell me a lot about my heart and the hearts of others and make me smile, compassionately, as they do.

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